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Research & Clinical Trials

Clinical Trials Currently Enrolling

Is a Trial Right For You?

Oncology Clinical trials (sometimes called research studies) are conducted with volunteers to test new ways of treating cancer. Clinical trials may: 

  • test new drugs that are not available to the general public.
  • test approved drugs in new doses or in combinations with other medications.
  • test new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy.
  • ask questions about how cancer affects your quality of life.

Regardless of their scope, the goal of all clinical trials is to find better ways to treat cancer and help future cancer patients.

What Are the Possible Benefits and Drawbacks to the Patient?

There are possible benefits and risks to participating in a clinical trials that patients should carefully weigh prior to enrolling.

Possible Benefits:

  • Access to experimental therapy before it is readily available
  • If the new intervention is shown to work, the participant may be among the first to benefit
  • By examining the benefits and drawbacks of clinical trials, participants are taking an active role in their health care decisions
  • Close monitoring by the research healthcare team
  • Study medication is usually paid for by the sponsor of the trial
  • Helping to advance medical knowledge that will improve cancer care of others

Possible Drawbacks:

  • New treatments are not always better than the standard of care (conventional treatment)
  • New treatments may have unexpected side-effects that may be worse than standard treatments
  • Participation in a clinical trial may require increased patient responsibility (more tests, more appointments, self-monitoring for side effects, etc.)
  • Health insurance may not cover all costs associated with the study

A Closer Look at Clinical Trials: Common Questions

Are all people on clinical trials really sick?

No. Sometimes patients think that participating means there are no other options available. This is not always true. Many times, clinical trials are not a last resort for patients. For example, a patient with breast cancer may elect to enroll in a clinical trial comparing 3 standard approved treatments that her doctor would normally recommend so she may help researchers determine which of the 3 is most effective.

I am interested in a clinical trials that says it's a "Phase III" study. What does that mean?

There are 4 different stages called "phases" of clinical trials testing new treatments. Each phase is designed to answer specific questions about the treatment. The phases are:

  • Phase I: Researchers test a new drug or treatment in a small group of people for the first time to evaluate its safety, determine a safe dosage range, and identify side effects.
  • Phase II:The drug or treatment is given to a larger group of people to see if it is effective and to further evaluate its safety.
  • Phase III:The drug or treatment is given to large groups of people to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare it to commonly used treatments, and collect information that will allow the drug or treatment to be used safely.
  • Phase IV: Studies are done after the drug or treatment has been marketed to gather information on the drug's effect in various populations and any side effects associated with long-term use.

Clinical trials conducted at the Seacoast Cancer Center are Phase II or III trials.

What do I have to do to enroll in a clinical trial?

Your doctor will have to determine if you are eligible for the study, usually through lab tests and reviewing your medical history. Once it is determined that you are eligible, you will be asked to sign an informed consent that is separate from any other consents you may have signed at the hospital. An informed consent outlines all the risks/benefits of the trial and explains what you will need to do to participate. The informed consent means you agree to participate in the trial voluntarily. You can revoke your consent at any time and will be given a copy of it to review at home before you enroll in the trial.

For more information, please contact our Clinical Research Coordinator Christine Pilar, BS, CRCC at (603) 740-2150.

Helpful Websites

National Cancer Institute

US National Institutes of Health

US National Library of Medicine

Radiation Therapy Oncology Group

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